Skip to main content
Select Source:

IUD

IUD

Definition

An IUD is an intrauterine device made of plastic and/or copper that is inserted into the womb (uterus) by way of the vaginal canal. One type releases a hormone (progesterone), and is replaced each year. The second type is made of copper and can be left in place for five years. The most common shape in current use is a plastic "T" which is wrapped with copper wire.

Purpose

IUDs are used to prevent pregnancy and are considered to be 95-98% effective. It should be noted that IUDs offer no protection against the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS ) virus or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Precautions

IUDs are placed in the uterus by physicians. Prior to placement the doctor will take a medical history, do a physical examination, and take a Pap test. Women who have had tubal pregnancies, an abnormal Pap smear, or abnormal vaginal bleeding are generally disqualified from using this form of contraception. Also, women who have STDs, an allergy to copper, severe pain with periods (menstruation), sex with multiple partners, or who are currently pregnant are not eligible for an IUD. There are no age restrictions.

Description

There is continuing controversy over exactly how IUDs prevent pregnancy. Some researchers think pregnancy is controlled by preventing conception (fertilization), while others believe that the devices prevent embryo attachment to the uterine wall (implantation).

IUDs which release a hormone may prevent pregnancy in several ways. Since one hormonal response is a thickening of the mucous at the entrance to the uterus, it is more difficult for the sperm to gain entry. This prevents the sperm from reaching an ovum. At the same time, the lining of the uterus becomes thinner, making it more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant itself in the uterus. The copper device slowly releases copper which is believed to weaken and perhaps kill sperm. An alternate explanation is that these objects "sweep" the uterus, dislodging any fertilized egg that attempts to implant itself. In addition, both devices tend to cause a mild inflammatory reaction in the lining of the uterus which also has an adverse impact on implantation.

Preparation

After the physician approves the use of an IUD, the woman's genital area is washed thoroughly with soap and water in preparation of IUD insertion. The opening into the uterus (cervix) will also be cleaned with an antiseptic such as an iodine solution. Actual IUD insertion takes about five minutes, during which a local anesthesia is used to reduce any discomfort associated with the procedure. A plastic string connected to the IUD will hang out of the uterus into the vagina. The string is used to periodically check the position of the IUD.

Aftercare

The woman will be taught to watch for the signs and symptoms of potential complications and how to check the string, which should be done at least once a week. To check the string, the woman should first wash her hands with soap and water. From a squatting position, or with one foot elevated (such as on a chair), she should gently insert her finger into the vagina until she nears the cervix. If she cannot feel the string, if the string feels longer than it should, or if she can feel part of the IUD, she should notify her physician immediately. Additional information that needs to be reported includes painful intercourse and unusual discharge from the vagina.

Risks

Serious risks are rare, but include heavy bleeding, pain, infection, cramps, pelvic inflammatory disease, perforation of the uterus, and ectopic pregnancy.

KEY TERMS

Antiseptic An antiseptic is a chemical that prevents the growth of germs.

Hormone Hormones are chemicals that are produced in an organ or gland and then are carried by the blood to another part of the body where they produce a special effect for which they were designed.

Pap test This is a procedure by which cells are collected from the cervix and vagina by inserting a swab into the vaginal canal. These cells are then examined under a microscope in order to detect signs of early cancer.

Resources

ORGANIZATIONS

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. 810 Seventh Ave., New York, NY,10019. (800) 669-0156. http://www.plannedparenthood.org.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"IUD." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"IUD." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 13, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/iud

"IUD." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Retrieved December 13, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/iud

IUD

IUD • abbr. ∎  intrauterine death (of the fetus before birth). ∎  intrauterine device.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"IUD." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"IUD." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 13, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/iud-0

"IUD." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved December 13, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/iud-0

IUD

IUD Med. intrauterine death
• Med. intrauterine (contraceptive) device

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"IUD." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"IUD." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 13, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/iud

"IUD." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Retrieved December 13, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/iud